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How does a computer chip work?

  1. Mar 26, 2005 #1
    If you are familiar with game boy, the gaming company by Nintendo, then i have a question for you. This also applies to any eletronic device with a circuit board. It might not actually be a circuit board -- I don't know what it is called. But it is green and has alot of connections on it. How do they work? How do you get the programming code (instructions) on these? How does the eletricity flow through them? I don't understand circuit boards, and would like some help on this area. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2005 #2
    That green thing is a circuit board. The connections running all over the place are like wires. Electricity is flowing through them. The batteries you put in the gameboy supply the power. When you flip the "on" switch, you are closing the circuit and allowing electricity to flow.

    This part is a guess since I'm not very familiar with the inside of a gameboy:

    As to how to program them... well, obviously the unit is microprocessor based. You program the instructions on the chips integrated onto the motherboard (the green thing).

    The games are written seperately, as I'm sure you know. They are written in a high level programming language.

    As for understanding circuit boards, essentially they are the same things as the circuits you built in physics class, with breadboards and wires, etc. All of the chips and wires, and other circuit compenents are packaged on those slim circuit boards.
  4. Mar 26, 2005 #3
    In addition to the above, there is a microprocessor(similar to the intel or PPC you are using to access this forum, only much much smaller) and some associated ram and rom. The rom holds all of the software needed to boot your gameboy up when there is no cartridge installed as well as the programs needed to access the games stored on the cartridge and any programs needed to decipher the games.

    This rom chip(depending on the system it can be external to the microprocessor or internal to the microprocessor) are factory "burned" with all of the required programs. Essentially, the rom chip is connected to another computer(like an intel running windows) and the software is sent from the source(intel) computer to a rom burner(a device the rom chip plugs into to connect to the source). The rom burner applies a higher voltage than the chip normally sees which causes transistors within the rom to burnout. Rom and Ram are simply huge arrays of transistors. The pattern of damaged transistors can be read by the microprocessor and intrepreted as a program.

    The process is very similar to burning a CD except a CD is not a little black chip soldered onto a motherboard; however, the fundamentals are still the same. Data is permenately burned onto a medium in a pattern correlating to a program or some other form of data.

    The older gameboys used Z80 processors and if you look you can find a lot of information on how to modify the original gameboys to run custom roms and custom game cartridges.

    Here's a little cool gadget someone put together for an older gameboy:

    Hope this helped.
  5. Apr 1, 2005 #4

    Thank you. Phew, that page is confusing. Alot of terms I do not understand. It is interesting though. Thank you. I'm also interested in lasers. I want to build my own, but I'm going to have to know alot mor eabout optics to do so. And alot of money..I think they cost around $2000+
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